Alaska's King

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Location: Alaska, United States

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Three Alaska Volcanoes Erupt

Anchorage residents could see a cloud of steam from a volcano 75 miles (120 km) away -- one of three Alaska volcanoes showing signs of unrest.

The three volcanoes, including two located on remote Aleutian islands distant from any population centers, are setting off frequent tremors and minor bursts of ash or steam, seismologists said on Tuesday.

Cleveland Volcano, 900 miles (1,500 km) southwest of Anchorage, had a small eruption on Friday, said the Alaska Volcano Observatory, which monitors Alaska's more than 40 active volcanoes.

Its ash plume rose to a height of nearly 15,000 feet (4.6 km) above sea level, observatory scientists said.

A cloud of steam from the 11,070-foot (3,400-metre) Mount Spurr was visible from Anchorage over the weekend.

Cleveland Volcano has had periodic but minor ash emissions and some debris flow caused by melted snow, said Dave Schneider, a U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist and acting scientist-in-charge at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Ash emissions from Cleveland Volcano "are a lot easier to see now than they were in the summer because you have fresh snow," Schneider said.

Cleveland Volcano, which comprises the western half of uninhabited Chuginadak Island, last erupted in 2001. The closest community, 45 miles (70 km) to the east, is Nikolski, an Aleut village of 36 people.

The other volcano showing unrest is 5,925-foot (1,800-m) Tanaga Volcano.

A series of eruptions in 1992 showered Anchorage and the surrounding region with ash, forcing a brief closure of Anchorage International Airport.