Sunday 5 May 2013

Eruption on Mount Cleveland.

On Sunday 5 May 2013, at about 5.00 am local time (about 1.00 pm GMT), the Alaska Volcano Observatory recorded an explosive eruption on Mount Cleveland in the Aleutian Islands, roughly 1500 km southeast of Anchorage (this was done via remote seismic monitoring, there is no permanent station near Mt Cleveland). This was followed by further eruptions at 9.17 and 11.44 am local time (5.17 pm and 7.44 pm GMT). Infra-red satellite observations showed high temperatures around the summit of the volcano, and the production of a thin plume rising 5000 m above the peak and drifting to the east. Some flights in the region were diverted around the time of the original eruption, but further disruption to aviation is not expected at this time.

The location of Mount Cleveland. Google Maps.

Mount Cleveland is a stratovolcano (cone-shaped volcano) on Chuginadak Island, part of the Four Mountains Group of islands, which are in turn part of the Aleutians Chain. At 1730 m Mount Cleveland is the largest of the Four Mountains. It is an active volcano, with frequent short-lived explosive outbursts, often accompanied by lava-flows.

A previous eruption on Mount Cleveland. Mandy Lindeberg/NOAA/NMFS/AKFSC.

THe Aleutian Islands are located along the margin of the North American and Pacific Plates. The Pacific Plate is being subducted beneath the North American Plate along this margin. As it does so  combination of heat and pressure melts more volatile minerals within the plate, which then rise through the overlying North American Plate as magma, fueling the volcanoes of the Aleutian Chain. 

Model of the subduction of the Pacific Plat beneath the North American Plate along the southern coast of Alaska and the Aleutians. United States Geological Survey.

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