Scientists warn of possible explosion at Alaska volcano

A “nuisance” volcano on a remote Alaska Aleutian island is showing signs of a potentially disruptive explosion in the coming days that could disrupt air traffic, scientists said.

Cleveland Volcano, a 5,676-foot (1,730-meter) peak about 950 miles (1,500 km) southwest of Anchorage, has been extruding lava from its crater – a sign of something more serious to come in the next days or possibly weeks, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

The observatory, jointly operated by federal, state and University of Alaska scientists, has raised Cleveland’s alert code to “orange,” one level below the “red” status indicating an ongoing and major eruption that could affect aviation.

Cleveland is one of Alaska’s most restless volcanoes and has been trembling and belching bits of ash on and off for about the past 15 years.

“It’s sort of a little nuisance volcano,” said University of Alaska scientist Jeff Freymueller, coordinating scientist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

But the recent days’ formation of lava, if the volcano’s history is any guide, is a precursor to more powerful activity, Freymueller said. The lava acts like a cap on Cleveland’s vent, and there is a good chance of a powerful explosion to blow off that cap, he said.

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