Two Alaskan volcanoes are seeing increased activity as levels of ash, lava spews and rumblings pick up in frequency. Notable amplified seismic activity has been documented at both the Cleveland and Pavlof volcanoes.
While experts are having a difficult time observing the two volcanoes due to cloudy conditions, tools used to monitor volcanoes are detecting the activity. Officials warn there is a possibility of a more serious eruption for both volcanoes.
CNN reported both volcanoes are currently elevated to an aviation orange code, which is the second most serious of the four levels of alert. According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), an orange alert signifies a volcano is "exhibiting heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption, timeframe uncertain, OR eruption is underway with no or minor volcanic-ash emissions".
The 5,676-foot high Cleveland Volcano is in the Aleutian Island range, which is located southwest of mainland Alaska on an island. The nearest town is 45 miles away. It is located 944 miles from Anchorage.
AVO staff reported they noticed its surface temperature has been elevating this week. No explosions were detected by the instruments monitoring the remote Cleveland, however some lava flow was identified by satellite imagery. Experts say if ash clouds are produced, they could exceed 20,000 feet above sea level.
In recent years Cleveland has seen heightened activity, but had its last major eruption in 2001. It is more difficult for experts to monitor this volcano due to its more remote location and a lack of funding to get more precise tools.
The 8,261-foot high Pavlof Volcano, also located in the Aleutian Island range, is connected to Alaska's mainland. The nearest town is only 23 miles away. It is located 590 miles from Anchorage.
In May 2013, AVO said the volcano continues to erupt, and lava, ash and steam have all been detected. AVO also said the volcano's surface temperature has increased and seismic activity is heightened as well. Experts are able to monitor this volcano with ground instruments, unlike Cleveland Volcano.
Both the Cleveland and Pavlof volcanoes continue to be carefully watched by AVO staff. There are concerns of a potential eruption which could cause problems for locals and also for flying aircraft in the vicinity. A serious eruption could affect fish, wildlife and humans.
"They are very similar, and both have the ability to erupt," John Power, a scientist from the U.S. Geological Survey, said this week, reported CNN. "We think of the Aleutian Islands as being remote and desolate, but when you come up to 30,000 feet we are talking about 20 to 30,000 people there every single day."
Elsewhere in North America, many are actively monitoring Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico. With daily activity since 1994, this volcano has been making a lot of noise throughout the month of May. Currently, Popocatepetl is at a heightened alert level.