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Shishaldin Volcano continues to erupt, sending up multiple ash clouds

Shishaldin Volcano eruption plume on Friday, as photographed from Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
Lee Cooper
Canadian Coast Guard
Shishaldin Volcano eruption plume on Friday, as photographed from Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Shishaldin volcano, which has been erupting for days, sent an ash cloud 40,000 feet into the air above Unimak Island early Friday morning.

The volcano, located in the eastern Aleutian Islands, started showing signs of unrest Tuesday.

At around midnight on Friday, a large explosion sent up a plume of ash, followed by another explosion at around 8 a.m.

Nick Schwartz is a lead forecaster for the National Weather Service. He said flights were not majorly affected by these recent eruptions because the wind pushed the ash southward into the Pacific Ocean. But he said the situation remains dynamic because Shishaldin eruptions can change quickly.

“This morning it went from basically nothing to a plume height of over 35,000 feet in a matter of 10 minutes,” Schwartz said.

Hannah Dietterich is a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. She called Shishaldin an “open system,” meaning there is an easy pathway for the magma to travel.

“So those eruptions can happen with less warning time than other systems,” she said.

Dietterich said volcanic eruptions can last for many months, so be prepared — whether it be to protect yourself from ash fall, or to be flexible with travel plans due to possible flight cancellations.

“It's a pretty active place,” Dietterich said. “It's part of the Alaska experience.”

For more information on volcanic hazards and how to be safe during eruptions, head to USGS’s Volcano Hazards Program online.

Updated 7/17/23 — — —

Alaska Volcano Observatory officials say Saturday night’s 7.2 earthquake that happened near Sand Point was not related to the volcano. And the earthquake did not trigger the large ash eruption, even though they were just hours apart.

Sofia was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She’s reported around the U.S. for local public radio stations, NPR and National Native News. Sofia has a Master of Arts in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism from the University of Montana, a graduate certificate in Documentary Studies from the Salt Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts from the University of Colorado Boulder. In between her studies, Sofia was a ski bum in Telluride, Colorado for a few years.
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