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Alaska's Cleveland Volcano sends ash cloud 15,000 feet into sky

Alaska Dispatch
A small volcanic plume rose above remote Mount Cleveland on June 1, 2010. This false-color image was acquired by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.
Image by NASA Earth Observatory
Aerial photograph of the Mt. Cleveland lava and summit crater on August 8, 2011. Mt. Cleveland is on Chuginadak Island in Alaska's Aleutian chain.
Photo by Kym Yano/NOAA
Aerial photograph of the Mt. Cleveland lava and summit crater on August 8, 2011. Mt. Cleveland is on Chuginadak Island in Alaska's Aleutian chain.
Photo by Dave Withrow/NOAA
Worldview satellite image collected on August 9, 2011 of the summit crater of Cleveland Volcano. The irregularly shaped dark object in the center of the image is the newly erupted lava dome. It is surrounded by brightly colored mineral deposits produced by volcanic gas emissions. A thin steam cloud partially obscures the view.
Image courtesy of AVO/USGS, copyright 2011 DigitalGlobe
Ashfall on the Lady Gudny on July 21, 2008.
Photo courtesy Anne Hillman, KIAL/Unalaska Community Broadcasting
2008 aerial photograph of the Island of Four Mountains region, including Mount Cleveland.
Photo by Cyrus Read/ AVO, U.S. Geological Survey
The eruption of Cleveland Volcano on May 23, 2006, is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 13 crewmember on the International Space Station.
Photo courtesy Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
The island with a prominent caldera in left (west) of image is Herbert, just northeast of it is Carlisle, and Mount Cleveland lies almost directly east. The western flanks of Tana are visible in the lower right of the image. Photographed on January 1, 2001.
Photo courtesy Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
Mount Cleveland is a 1,730-m (5,676 ft)-high stratovolcano in Alaska's Aleutian chain. Photographed on July 24, 1994.
Photo by M. Harbin/AVO, University of Alaska Fairbanks
A webcam image showing an eruption at Cleveland Volcano on June 19, 2012.
Alaska Volcano Observatory photo
Aerial photograph of the Mt. Cleveland lava and summit crater on August 8, 2011. Mt. Cleveland is on Chuginadak Island in Alaska's Aleutian chain.
Photo by Dave Withrow/NOAA
Annotated NOAA satellite image from 5:02 AM AST on 29 December 2011 showing a drifting ash cloud from a small eruption of Cleveland Volcano.
Photo courtesy AVO/UAF-GI
Satellite radar image from the TerraSAR-X sensor, showing the summit of Cleveland Volcano on February 10, 2012. It shows the presence of a small lava dome within the summit crater.
Image courtesy of AVO/USGS
This GeoEye IKONOS image shows a faint plume issuing from Cleveland Volcano at 2:31 PM on September 14, 2010. Red in this image highlights areas of vegetation detected by the near-infrared channel.
Photo courtesy Alaska Volcano Observatory/GeoEye

An ash cloud erupted some 15,000 feet into the air from Alaska's Cleveland Volcano, according to satellite images and the Alaska Volcano Observatory

The last significant eruption of Cleveland occurred in February 2001 and resulted in three ash plumes that reached up to 39,000 feet above sea level and "a rubbly lava flow and hot avalanche that reached the sea."

Cleveland, located in the Aleutian Islands about 45 miles west of the community of Nikolski, has been upgraded and downgraded several times over the last few months, flaring up in July and erupting in the form of a growing lava dome in August. Following several weeks of activity, the volcano was downgraded before being upgraded again to an alert level of "watch" and an aviation hazard color-code of "orange" in early September. Two months later, the alert level was again lowered after the volcano seemed to quiet down.

This latest activity comes six days after the most recent update on the AVO website. The AVO said that satellite imagery from about 5 a.m. Thursday confirmed the presence of a detached ash cloud, about 50 miles away from the volcano and moving southeast.

Aviators in the area are encouraged to exercise caution, but the AVO said that the eruption may be an isolated event.

"Satellite data indicate that this is a single explosion event," the AVO said, "however, more sudden explosions producing ash could occur with plumes exceeding 20,000 feet above sea level. Such explosions and their associated ash clouds may go undetected in satellite imagery for hours."

Cleveland volcano lacks any real-time monitoring equipment.

For the latest updates on the status of Cleveland Volcano, click here. For all other Alaska volcanoes, click here.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com.  Scott Woodham contributed to this report.