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Pavlof Volcano Eruption in Alaska Spurs Heightened Alert Level

Jun 03, 2014 10:16 AM EDT

Due to an eruption at Pavlof Volcano, the Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the alert level on Monday.

An ash cloud was spewed by the volcano that reached 22,000 feet and stretched for about 50 miles to the east of the peak, which is considered a low-level eruption, but still prompted the heightened awareness, according to Anchorage Daily News.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) thus 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 alert-notification description.

Pavlof Volcano sits on the Alaska Peninsula, 36 miles northeast of the community of Cold Bay and 8,200 feet above sea level, Alaska Public Media reported. It's considered one of the most consistently active volcanoes in the Aleutian arc - there have been about 40 historic eruptions thus far. The last time Pavlof erupted was in 2013, causing regional airlines to cancel flights to nearby locations.

The current eruption began on May 31 when elevated surface temperatures persisted at the summit and lava reached the surface, according to scientist Robert McGinsey, who spoke with the Associated Press (AP).

Some weak seismic activity is being detected on the network set up on the Pavlov Volcano and AVO confirms that some small explosion signals were detected by a distant infrasound sensor, according to Alaska Public Media.

The alert level was initially raised to "Watch" on Saturday due to the elevated temperatures and after a pilot in the area reported an ash and gas plume at around 7,000 feet elevation.

McGinsey says that aircraft flying below 25,000 feet should avoid the area for the time being.

When the AP asked how long the eruption might last, he replied, "hours, days or weeks."

You can follow all of the activity at the volcano on AVO's website.

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