Alaska Volcano Observatory officials issued a new aviation warning, the ninth since the Bogoslof volcano began erupting in mid-December 2016. So far, the AVO recorded approximately 20 explosive events in relation to the eruption. The most recent explosion, however, was recorded on January 18th, at around 1:20 p.m. The event sent a 31-feet high cloud of ash flying over the volcano, prompting the latest aviation warning issued by the entity.
According to Dave Schneider, a geophysicist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, a series of smaller explosions which occurred earlier this week preceded the event.
“It’s safe to say the explosive activity has been variable”, said Dave Schneider.
He added that the latest explosion was also the largest one that occurred in the past few weeks, but, at the same time, not the largest ever recorded since the volcano started displaying signs of activity. According to past records, some ash clouds reached as high as 35,000 feet into the air. However, Schneider said the difference in height could be attributed to atmospheric conditions, rather than the explosions themselves.
The ash clouds represent a serious threat to nearby air traffic, as well as boats, say the scientists. However, weather forecasts predict the wind is going to push the ash cloud towards the Bering Sea, rather than carry it in Unalaska’s and Dutch Harbor’s direction. The researchers say they have been lucky so far, but they have no idea how future ash clouds will behave. However, they remain positive that the strong winds will carry them into the Bering Sea, sparing Dutch Harbor and Unalaska.
Furthermore, the researchers also find especially difficult to predict when the next explosion will occur or when will the volcano finally settle down. According to information gathered in the past on Bogoslof’s activity, some eruptions have been known to last anywhere from several weeks up to several months.
Ultimately, the scientists said the volcanic activity is also responsible for reshaping the island’s coastline. Dave Schneider says the process is still underway. As of now, the scientists fear the current eruption will separate the volcano’s vent from the ocean. According to the AVO researchers, this will allow future ash clouds to travel even further.
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