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Alaska Cleveland Volcano burps again, with ash soaring to 35,000 feet

Alaska Dispatch
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
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

Cleveland Volcano, located in Alaska's Aleutian Islands about 45 miles west of the village of Nikolski, erupted for at least the sixth time in four years on Tuesday, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

At about 2 p.m. Tuesday, a webcam pointed at Mount Cleveland observed an ash cloud rising in the distance to an estimated height of 35,000 feet. That height was estimated by a pilot report submitted by a pilot traveling in the vicinity. The aviation level is now at orange, which means pilots should exercise caution when traveling in the area.

The observatory noted that additional, unexpected eruptions were possible that could send additional ash above 20,000 feet, but data indicated that this eruption didn't last long. Cleveland is about 150 miles west of the bustling fishing town of Unalaska.

Cleveland most recently erupted in December 2011, when a 15,000-foot column of ash was observed by satellite.

Cleveland has been upgraded and downgraded numerous other times in recent years, with lava domes growing, subsiding, and occasional eruptions occurring. It has now erupted six times since January 2009, with one other event in September 2010 that may have been an eruption, but wasn't confirmable due to cloud cover obscuring satellite confirmation of an ash cloud.

This most recent eruption, if the 35,000-foot estimate holds true, is the highest tephra cloud emitted from the peak since 2001, when an eruption pushed ash all the way to 39,000 feet.

Cleveland is among Alaska's most active volcanoes, but scientists have no real-time monitoring on its home island of Chuginadak, including seismic monitoring. Read more, and keep an eye on Mount Cleveland, at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.