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Activity at Alaska's Pavlof Volcano spikes again

Ben Anderson
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) photographed this striking view of Pavlof Volcano on May 18, 2013.
NASA photo
Mount Pavlof, a volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, erupting on May 17, 2013. The ash plume reached 20,000 feet.
Chris Owens photo
Mount Pavlof, a volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, erupting on May 17, 2013. The ash plume reached 20,000 feet.
Chris Owens photo
Mount Pavlof, a volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, erupting on May 17, 2013. The ash plume reached 20,000 feet.
Chris Owens photo
Mount Pavlof, a volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, erupting on May 17, 2013. The ash plume reached 20,000 feet.
Chris Owens photo
Mount Pavlof, a volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, erupting on May 17, 2013. The ash plume reached 20,000 feet.
Chris Owens photo
Mount Pavlof, a volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, erupting on May 17, 2013. The ash plume reached 20,000 feet.
Chris Owens photo
Mount Pavlof, a volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, erupting on May 17, 2013. The ash plume reached 20,000 feet.
Chris Owens photo
Mount Pavlof, a volcano on the Alaska Peninsula, erupting on May 17, 2013. The ash plume reached 20,000 feet.
Chris Owens photo
Eruption of Pavlof Volcano as viewed from Cold Bay, Alaska, 37 miles southwest of the volcano. May 14, 2013
Courtesy Rachel Kremer
Eruption of Pavlof Volcano as viewed from Cold Bay, Alaska, 37 miles southwest of the volcano. May 14, 2013
Courtesy Rachel Kremer
Terra/MODIS satellite image of Pavlof's eruption on the morning of May 14, 2013.
Jeff Schmaltz / NASA / GSFC
Pavlof volcano erupting on Thursday, May 16, 2013.
Courtesy Theo Chesley
Pavlof volcano erupting on Thursday, May 16, 2013.
Courtesy Theo Chesley
Pavlof Volcano, around 10 a.m. on May 16, 2013, as seen from the north side of the mountain, about 35 miles south of Nelson Lagoon.
Courtesy Theo Chesley
Pavlof volcano erupting on Thursday, May 16, 2013.
Courtesy Theo Chesley

The Alaska Volcano Observatory has raised the alert level again at Pavlof Volcano. The peak was spotted emitting ash about a week after being downgraded due to a lack of activity. Located in Southwest Alaska about 30 miles northeast of the community of King Cove, the 8,261-foot peak is arguably the state's most active volcano, having erupted about 40 times in recorded history. Pavlof first awoke on May 13, when thermal imaging revealed that the volcano was heating up. Two days later, a dark ash cloud rose to about 20,000 feet.

The AVO reported Tuesday that Pavlof was again spewing ash, based on satellite data and a pilot report. "Satellite images show ash moving southeast, and pilot reports estimate cloud height at 19,000 feet," the AVO wrote in its status update. Pilots are advised to use caution  in the area. The nearby community of Cold Bay has an FAA weather camera that permits pilots to see the volcano and any activity on clear days. PenAir grounded several flights late last month when the volcano was still erupting.

The volcano was downgraded last week after seismic and thermal activity dropped off. However, the AVO noted, this decline was consistent with Pavlof's past eruption patterns.

"During past eruptions of Pavlof, the style of eruptive activity fluctuated from higher to lower levels," the AVO wrote. "Therefore, this pause in eruptive activity does not necessarily indicate that the eruption has ended. Renewed activity is possible, and may not be preceded by significant seismic activity."

Looks like the volcanologists at AVO called it. 

Meanwhile, another of Alaska's most eruptive peaks, Mount Cleveland in the Aleutian Islands, which was upgraded on May 4 following a possible explosion at the largely-unmonitored peak, also remained at elevated status. "Sudden explosions of blocks and ash are possible with little or no warning," the AVO wrote.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com