Explosion at Bogoslof Volcano prompts ninth aviation warning during weeks-long eruption

 Photo courtesy Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey
Photo courtesy Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey (KTUU)
Published: Jan. 18, 2017 at 4:24 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says it has recorded about 20 explosive events at Bogoslof Volcano since it began erupting about a month ago.

Bogoslof’s most recent explosion occurred at around 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday, and sent up an ash cloud about 31,000 feet high, prompting the ninth red aviation warning AVO has issued for the volcano since mid-December.

AVO Geophysicist Dave Schneider says Wednesday’s eruption was preceded by a series of smaller events earlier in the week.

“It’s safe to say the explosive activity has been variable,” Schneider said. “This was one of the larger events over the past few weeks.”

The ash cloud is not the highest that the volcano has produced during this eruption, with some previous ash clouds reaching as high as 35,000 feet, according to Schneider. But those differences could be more due to atmospheric conditions than the explosion itself.

While the ash cloud does pose a threat to nearby boats and air traffic, wind forecasts show that the fallout is unlikely to be carried towards Dutch Harbor and Unalaska.

“So far we’ve been lucky. The clouds have been moving the ash mostly into the Bering Sea, not Unalaska or Dutch Harbor,” Schneider said.

As the long-running eruption continues, Schneider says it’s difficult to predict when the volcano will finally settle down. Based on past data, eruptions at Bogoslof have lasted weeks and sometimes even months. The volcanic activity has also completely reshaped the island’s coastline, a process that Schneider says continues to take place.

“We had new data showing that the coastline continues to evolve and that was from before the event today so we’ll see what happens after this one,” Schneider said.

Schneider says scientists are also looking into the possibility that the volcano’s vent, currently located underwater, might eventually separate from the ocean during this eruption, which would allow ash clouds from future events to travel further.