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Alaska News

Aleutian island volcano spews ash more than 5 miles high

Lava flowed down the side of Shishaldin Volcano late Saturday and ash-rich plumes were recorded more than 5 miles high Sunday, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

The volcano is on Unimak Island, the largest island on the Aleutian chain, 120 miles northeast of Unalaska Island. It’s about 700 miles west of Anchorage.

The same volcano erupted two weeks ago, sending ash nearly 5 miles high. Geologist Tim Orr from the volcano observatory said the volcano was quiet in the weeks following, but started amping up in seismic activity Friday. On Saturday, lava could be seen from nearby Cold Bay and King Cove flowing down the northeastern flank of the volcano.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service issued an alert for pilots, as plumes were recorded 30,000 feet in elevation and extended up to 90 miles east. No flights had been canceled as of mid-Sunday, Orr said.

Orr said trace amounts of ash may fall on False Pass, which is 23 miles east of the volcano. He said one person reported finding ash on the windshield of their car Sunday.

The volcano observatory tweeted late Sunday that the ash emissions had ended around 8:30 p.m.

The flare-up falls in line with recent patterns of activity at Shishaldin. Orr said the volcano has had eruptions followed by activity dying off in a few days. He estimated Shishaldin will likely quiet down Sunday and Monday.

Shishaldin is one of the most active volcanoes in the Aleutian area, according to the observatory. There have been at least 54 episodes of unrest and over 24 confirmed eruptions since 1775. Most eruptions are small, but the volcano spewed ash 45,000 feet high in April and May of 1999.

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