Alaska’s Bogoslof volcano ‘belched’ an ash cloud 35,000ft (10,668 meters) into the atmosphere over a period of just 55 minutes.
Situated on the Aleutian Islands, the volcano erupted at 2:16pm local time Sunday, prompting the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) to issue a red aviation code – the highest warning level.
Weather satellites captured in superb detail the dispersion of ash over the Bering Sea. Images from the Japanese Himawari satellite shared by the National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center show the ash cloud clearly.
— NWS OPC (@NWSOPC) May 29, 2017
— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) May 29, 2017
— WeatherBug (@WeatherBug) May 29, 2017
The aviation code was later lowered to ‘orange’ as no further ash emissions occurred following Sunday’s explosion, and seismic activity was low.
The AVO advised however that further ash producing eruptions could occur at any time and without warning.
— Alaska AVO (@alaska_avo) May 16, 2017
Bogoslof Volcano has erupted about 40 times since December, after staying quiet for the previous quarter-century. It took a two-month break earlier this year before erupting again on May 16.
Ash from southwest Alaska volcanos is a major threat for airliners operating between North America and Asia.
North Pacific and Russian Far East air routes, as shown in the image below, pass over or near more than 100 potentially active volcanoes, marked in the map with red triangles.
When ash cloud rises above 20,000ft (6,096 meters) it has the potential to damage and even stop jet engines. Volcanic ash melts at jet engine temperatures, and can cause engine failure, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS)