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Alaska's fickle Cleveland volcano upgraded again

Alaska Dispatch

It's hard to believe that volcanic activity can come to seem routine, but Mount Cleveland, an active volcano located in Alaska's Aleutian island chain, is almost becoming just that. On Wednesday, the volcano was again upgraded by the Alaska Volcano Observatory to alert level "Orange," meaning the volcano is showing "heightened or escalting unrest" and could potentially erupt at any time.

It's become a regular song-and-dance for the volcano, which had been downgraded less than a week before after a series of small explosions earlier in March appeared to settle the steady activity that had been occurring over several weeks. In all, the volcano has been upgraded to "orange" five times in the last year, with a month or two of lessened activity before a sudden spike takes it back up.

The most significant eruptive activity to actually occur at the peak in since 2010 was a minor eruption on Dec. 29 of last year, which launched an ash cloud to 15,000 feet but signalled the end of further eruptive activity. The three small explosions detected by remote seismic sensors earlier in March 2012 followed.

A lava dome building in the volcano prompted the most recent elevation. There is no real-time monitoring at Cleveland volcano, making updates sporadic and often based on satellite imagery.

Keep an eye on the peak, at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.