AD Main Menu

AK Beat: Alert level raised at Alaska volcano as eruption escalates

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Alert level raised at Pavlof volcano: The Alaska Volcano Observatory on Monday said that an eruption at Pavlof Volcano had prompted a heightened alert level, after the volcano spat out an ash cloud that reached 22,000 feet and stretched for an estimated 80 kilometers to the east of the peak. Volcanologists raised the alert level at the volcano to "warning" and the aviation color code to "red," indicating "eruption is underway or suspected with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere," according to the AVO. Pavlof Volcano sits on the Alaska Peninsula, 36 miles northeast of the community of Cold Bay, which boasts one of the state's longest runways. The alert level at Pavlof was initially raised on Saturday, when the volcano demonstrated elevated surface temperatures and a pilot in the area reported an ash and gas plume at around 7,000 feet of elevation.

Traffic stop ends in nine drug charges, jail: A Wasilla man was in jail on nine separate drug charges after an early morning traffic stop found him in possession of a wide variety of illegal drugs, according to Alaska State Trooper reports. Troopers said they stopped a 2003 Hyundai at about 12:57 a.m. Monday for equipment and moving violations and found that the driver, 25-year-old Michael Yunker, of Wasilla, was on probation for a previous drug conviction. A search of the vehicle yielded about 15 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of crystal meth, 3 grams of black tar heroin, 15 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 15 grams of marijuana, and what troopers described as “ numerous items related to illegal narcotics distribution. Yunker was charged with three counts of second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, one count of third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, four counts of fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, and one count of fifth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. He was taken to the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility and held without bail.

Hunters, with dogs -- not disasters -- might be responsible for mammoth mass graves: Early hunters -- not natural disasters -- may have been responsible for some of the mass burial sites of mammoth bones scientists have unearthed in the Arctic, according to a new study. And dogs may have helped. Scientists had previously believed that such sites -- where the remains of many mammoths are found together -- were the result of floods or other natural causes that killed the animals en masse. But a new study, published in Quaternary International, suggests that the sites may have been exceptionally good places for hunters to ambush the creatures -- especially since they show evidence of use over many generations. They might also yield earliest evidence of cooperation between humans and recently domesticated canines, with the latter helping herd the hapless mammoths toward ambush sites.

Seafloor surveys for Arctic fiber optic route get underway: A Canadian company planning a fiber optic link between London and Tokyo is beginning marine surveys in preparation for laying the cable, reports Nome radio station KNOM. Arctic Fibre is using ship-based sonar to map the seafloor along it’s planned route through the Bering Strait and across the Arctic Ocean to determine exactly where the cable -- which they plan to lay in the summer of 2015 -- will go. The cable will have spur connections to a number of rural communities in Western and Arctic Alaska, bring the possibility of high-speed broadband connections.

Rare in the Lower 48, grayling are the target of a Montana conservation initiative: Arctic grayling are a common fish in many parts of Alaska, but in the Lower 48, the fish are rare -- and native populations are especially rare. One of those rare native populations has been spared, at least in part, by an unlikely ally: a dam. As Montana’s Ravalli Republic notes in a long piece on efforts to save a special local population of the fish, a dam creating a reservoir has kept out non-native brown trout, which would likely otherwise prey on their smaller salmonid cousins. But the spread of brown trout isn't the only threat the fish are facing.